Ruth Ellen Berry '20
What is your favorite thing about SAA?
My favorite thing about St. Agnes Academy is the community. I’ve been at St. Agnes all of my life, so naturally I’ve seen teachers and students come and go. However, once you are a part of the SAA community you are in it for life. New students are always welcomed with open arms, and old teachers and students that come back to visit are embraced with just as much love as on the day they left. It’s comforting to know that I am part of such a loving and supportive environment, and that’s why I would never even consider anywhere else.
Which class has been your favorite?
Art has always been my favorite class because it is the one time during the day when I can express another side of myself and use a different part of my brain. Honestly, art is my therapy. I enjoy challenging myself with my course load, but with that course load comes some stress, and art is how I manage that. Art is a class where I get to create something that I’ll be proud of for much longer than the grade I get on a chemistry test.
How do the teachers make learning meaningful?
Teachers at St. Agnes are truly invested in their students’ success and wellbeing, and that shows through in their teaching. I can’t say that I am always excited to take a Pre-Calculus test, but I also am never dreading to go to class. When the teachers are not only excited about teaching but also willing to pause and talk about an important life lesson, it gives me respect for my teachers and makes me want to learn from them.
How would you describe the classroom environment at SAA?
The classroom environment at SAA is informal and collaborative. The students not only respect the teachers, but the teachers respect the students. With that understanding, we can have fun with our teachers and get to know them more than just through their lectures on molecular bonding or The Great Gatsby. We get our work done, but we have good relationships with our teachers and classmates at the same time.
How do the Dominican Pillars of Study, Prayer, Community and Service impact life at SAA?
Life at St. Agnes Academy is a balance of the Four Pillars, and that is why I love it so much. St. Agnes has great teachers who are committed to giving students a great education, but it’s not just study all of the time. St. Agnes does a great job of making sure we have a well-rounded education that includes faith, friends, and community service as well. I really appreciate the retreats and weekly masses we have to grow in our faith with our peers. Also, SAA is very focused on building a strong community, so we have traditions like Spirit Week to get to know not only our class, but the other grades as well. Service is also an important part of life at SAA because there are so many opportunities to get involved. Whether it’s being a part of Key Club, Forever Friends, or even just going to the annual Day of Caring, St. Agnes girls are always looking for ways to serve others and spend time with the greater Memphis community.
What activities are you involved in at SAA?
I’ve been on the cross-country team since fifth grade, and this year I am one of the varsity team captains. I’ve also been on the Calliope staff since sophomore year and am Editor in Chief for my second year. Sophomore year I was class president and junior and senior year I have been the Commissioner of Service for the SGA. I’ve also participated in two plays and love to help out in any way I can, whether it’s making a poster or painting the set! I’ve also been an art student all four years and will take AP Art my senior year. I’ve been in the Key Club, Pep Club, and Forever Friends clubs since freshman year, and this year I am a peer mentor for the freshmen.
Tell us your experience as Editor of Calliope.
My two years as editor have helped me to merge and expand upon my loves of writing and art and even given me ideas for possible career paths. Most importantly, however, being editor of Calliope has helped me develop my leadership skills and given me practice in planning for the future.
What have you learned about leadership at St. Agnes?
Leadership has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned at St. Agnes. I’ve learned that being a leader doesn’t mean barking orders, but rather it’s working with groups and learning how to utilize everyone’s strengths to achieve a goal. I’m so thankful that I’ve gotten to be a part of the Leadership Lab since its very beginning. I’ve gotten the opportunity to see how the lab has helped leadership spread and grow across the entire campus. There’s a culture on our campus that anyone can be a leader, and it’s not just a cheesy saying that teachers tell the students to inspire them. Everyone is finding how to be a leader in her own way.
What activities do you participate in outside of school?
Outside of school, I am the non-profit editor of the 4Memphis magazine Impact staff. Also, I’ve also been a bridge builder for the past three years.
What is your favorite St. Agnes tradition?
The spring uniforms are my favorite SAA tradition because they are so different from every other school. They’re very comfortable, but also really fun to wear instead of the normal black and white skirts that other schools have. I also love shocking people when I show them my uniforms! It’s so funny to see people’s reactions when I tell them I wear the jumpers every day.